The latest economic news from around the region.
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(some) NLEA Awards delivered
Since the annual NLEA Business Showcase was held virtually this year, the award recipients had to wait to receive the actual awards! Here are a couple we've visited so far.
NLEA awarding Truestream Project of the Year
Truestream, a subsidiary of Great Lakes Energy, was awarded Project of Year for its commitment to bring the best fiber technology to the 26 counties they serve throughout Michigan. [L-R: David Emmel, Bill Scott, Shaun Lamp, Buck Love]
NLEA awarding Nancy Lindsay Guts
Nancy Lindsay, of Citizens National Bank received NLEA badge of honor Guts & Grit that recognizes a person or organization as a major part of their community, business, or organization, always supporting others with time, sponsorships, and guidance. [L-R: Jessica Lovay, Nancy Lindsay, David Emmel, Angie Ross]
Joining Jordan complete!
Last week, East Jordan cut the ribbon on the city’s new Joining Jordan project.

The project cost over $2 million with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation taking care of most of the funds. The City was responsible for approximately 10% of the costs.

In the beginning stages, Northern Lakes Economic Alliance assisted with obtaining the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) that lead to completion of the project.

The Joining Jordan project completely upgrades the walkway near the marina and links the east and west sides of the city together. Along with the walkway, they also added two pavilions and a waterfront park.

Chairman of the East Jordan Downtown Development Authority, Tom Teske, said it also allows for the possibility of future projects. “We also feel very fortunate that it opens up some other parcels for redevelopment that we hope to have private redevelopment come forth,” he said.

If your community is interested in learning more about a CDBG, contact Jessica Lovay at jess@northernlakes.net
Massive broadband expansion coming to Cheboygan County
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NLEA has made a priority to proliferate gigabit high-speed, reliable and cost effective broadband services throughout the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance region. The economic future of Michigan communities depends not only upon whether robust broadband infrastructure is present but also upon whether businesses and individuals fully utilize that technology to grow and develop local economies.

The Cheboygan County Economic Development Corporation (EDC) identified Technology as a leading priority for countywide development with a strong focus on supporting energy and broadband initiatives. To that end, they teamed up with Connected Nation to engage in the Connected Community Engagement Program. Designed to facilitate broadband and technology expansion, Connected offers start-to-finish guidance that measures supply, demand, and use of technology in communities with unprecedented data gathering, analysis, and planning. With Connected, Cheboygan successfully mapped their local technology ecosystem, identified many gaps, and are moving forward with support and solutions to improve their standing digital economy.
“Cheboygan County is experiencing a general rising tide of growth and investment. With this new momentum comes the perfect opportunity to capture and focus some of that energy into long term solutions that support sustainable and healthy communities, like a comprehensive broadband plan.” shares EDC chair, Sharen Lange. She continues, “Stakeholder partners throughout Cheboygan County activated quickly to support the Connected survey and helped create a clear picture of what our internet looks like. In doing so, we can now take it to the next level, guiding decisions that are data driven for a future with vastly improved access.”
The economic value of NCMC
North Central Michigan College (NCMC) influences both the lives of its students and the regional economy. The college supports a variety of industries in the Four-County Region, serves regional businesses, and benefits society as a whole in Michigan from an expanded economy and improved quality of life. The benefits created by NCMC even extend to the state and local government through increased tax revenues and public sector savings. Below is in infographic displaying the results of an economic survey that reflects fiscal year 2018-19.
Creating a worker with more skills
IAI training
If you’d like your workers to have a set of skills, teach them.
 
For Carmeuse Americas Calcite Operations, teaching new skills has made a difference to their operations. One of the world’s leading manufacturers in limestone and limestone products, Carmeuse hires specialized and general workers for their quarry operations. While they don’t hire welders, welding is on their list of desired skills for any new employee.

Industrial Arts Institute of Onaway met all Comerford’s requirements, providing essential welding training to her teams in just four days.

Understanding employer needs is part of Industrial Arts Institute’s DNA. IAI’s relationships with local industry inform the curriculum of their 19-week comprehensive welding program and their trademark “employer-based” education model that acclimates students to real world expectations.

It means a lot that Industrial Arts Institute is willing to offer us training specific to our needs and at a time that works for our operations,” Comerford added. “And the team was blown away by the chance to learn from Tom Moran. His experience and depth of knowledge added so much value to their experience.”

Six Carmeuse employees completed four days of training in shielded metal arc welding, and another six completed gas metal arc welding and flux cored arc welding training the following week, offered on their 7AM to 3PM schedule onsite at Industrial Arts Institute in Onaway, Michigan.

Comerford applied for a Going Pro Talent Fund grant to pay for the training, a program that Industrial Arts Institute hopes other employers will take advantage of. “The purpose of the Going Pro Talent Fund grant is to support employers’ efforts to train their current workforce,” Ward said. “As employers face mounting challenges sourcing and hiring workers – all workers, not just welders – these funds provide them with additional incentive to take advantage of training programs like ours.”
Cheboygan seeks Community Development Fellow to spearhead city-wide projects
Cheboygan is seeking applicants for the CEDAM Community Development Fellowship, a 15-month paid position that will help expand organizational capacity and take on a variety of development projects in Cheboygan. The fellow will work full-time beginning October 2021. 
 
Cheboygan was one of 10 Redevelopment Ready Communities (RRC) selected by the Community Economic Development Association of Michigan (CEDAM) and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) to host fellows for 2021-22. The fellow will take on various projects that aid in community economic development, ultimately helping promote equity and improve quality of life for those who live or work in Cheboygan. Some potential projects our fellow will work on include, increasing the viability of Cheboygan’s Industrial Park and Port of Cheboygan, enhancing and modernizing communications through website updates, and researching how to form a recreation authority.
 
“The CEDAM Fellowship is a great opportunity for individuals to gain professional experience in the community development sector, and for host communities to take on additional projects,” says Rachel Diskin, director of capacity building at CEDAM. “Through this program, we are able to help Michigan expand the range of what’s possible and, at the end of the day, address critical needs to make their community stronger.”
 
The deadline to apply for the fellowship is July 26. To learn more about the position and how to apply, visit cedamichigan.org/fellowship.
Free business education webinars!
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Turning your business idea into a market-ready product or service can seem like a confusing process. Michigan SBDC offers an array of free business education webinars along with one-on-one business consulting to make that process as simple as possible.

From learning how to write a business plan to marketing tips, check out their free business education webinars to help to feel confident as you get started. See a list of upcoming trainings:
Monday, July 26 at 10:00 AM

Monday, July 26 at 1:00 PM

Tuesday, July 27 at 1:00 PM
Housing crisis impacts everyone
By Steve Schnell, Charlevoix County’s Housing Ready Program Director with Housing North
Housing North logo
Everyone is impacted by our housing crisis in some way or another. The current housing market is quite lucrative if you own a home or any residential investment. But if you are not currently a homeowner, you will most likely struggle to find something within your budget. Across the state, especially northern Michigan middle income families $250k and above are being pushed out or moved to house prices above their comfort levels ($400k+). Even if you own a home and can make your mortgage payments, you are still impacted by the housing crisis.

The following are some examples of how housing challenges impact the vitality of our communities:

Hiring - If you are an employer, you are finding it harder to recruit employees who do not already live here. Your employees are living farther away, which means that the reliability of their transportation is more important than ever, and the costs of their transportation are higher than ever. This creates a situation where employees are susceptible to leaving for a job closer to where they live in the other community where they may be more invested. Data shows people who live closer to their job are more likely to work and they experience shorter terms of joblessness.

School Enrollment - If the community does not have housing adequate for its residents there will be families who are not able to live within the school district. School enrollment will continue to decline. Local businesses that need seasonal help, which often rely on young family members, will not have adequate staffing to serve their customers. Service at local restaurants and retail stores will suffer.

Short Term Rental Competition - Housing price increases are partially due to competition for short-term rentals. Homes that used to be rented long term are now being converted to short term rentals, reducing the number of year-round housing units, and increasing home prices. Renters may have difficulty finding a place to rent as more long-term rentals are converted to short term vacation rentals. In fact, currently there is a bill (HB 4722) working its way through the state legislature that could take away local control of these short-term rentals.

Representation in local government - Many of those who need housing that is not met by the market are not often represented in local government. People who struggle with housing are often working more than one job and do not have the time to dedicate to a volunteer or elected position. When given an opportunity to grow into housing as your life situation changes and your career evolves, typically beginning as a renter and evolving into a small starter home then owning a larger family home, a person and then a family can become an integral part of the community.

For more information on programs to ensure quality homes for everyone, please visit the Housing North resources online at homesforourfuture.org or call Steve Schnell, Charlevoix County’s Housing Ready Program Director with Housing North at 231-330-7070 or steve@housingnorth.org.
Videos you will want to share
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Economic development tastes good! A fun explanation of how a community benefits from economic development.
How the International Economic Development Council helped businesses enter new markets.
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